Gas company One Source to be sold

SOUTHINGTON — A natural gas company that ran afoul of state operating regulations, but was trying to resolve the issues, has decided instead to sell the system that serves 118 customers in the township.

Niles-based One Source Energy informed the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio of the decision Wednesday — two days after the commission determined the company had not adequately proven it was capable of operating the system and one day after the company was directed to file a plan by Friday detailing how it would disable gas service by Sept. 6.

Ramifications of the decision on the users are unknown at this point, but may become more clear when PUCO commissioners meet today. It’s expected at this meeting they will review the recommendation on the gas shutoff plan.

“(PUCO) staff found a number of deficiencies. We hustled to cure a number of those deficiencies. We cured about 90 percent, but that wasn’t good enough … so they (PUCO) suggested they (One Source) get out of business so that is what they are going to do,” said One Source’s attorney Michael D. Rossi.

Rossi said negotiations are happening with a number of potential buyers, and, according to a filing with the commission, One Source has pledged to update the commission on the status of the sale at least once per week to facilitate a “seamless transition to the purchasing entity without interruption of customer service.”

One Source had until Aug. 9 to pay a $25,000 fine and file documents to prove to the commission it had “adequate managerial, technical and financial capability” to provide the utility as well as financial assurances well enough to protect customers, according to the commission’s order to try to avoid being shut down.

It paid the fine and filed a number of documents with the commission by the deadline, but after review, the commission staff believed the company still had not proved it was fit to run the utility.

The fine was related to the commission’s claim One Source ignored an order from April 2018 to stop enrolling new customers.

According to the commission, the company filed an application to operate and for tariff approval in May 2016, noting in it as many as 62 homes could be connected to the main line, with 34 homes having already paid for a service line and 12 homes with active meters.

The commission in September 2017 reported the company was providing gas to about 19 customers without commission permission and its application was incomplete. The company also did not provide financial information after repeated requests, failed to acknowledge or correct alleged violations from two safety inspections and failed to appear at commission hearings.

The commission denied One Source’s application to operate as a natural gas provider and ordered it to stop enrolling new customers.